Carling Academy Islington
19th June, 2007
By Katie Spain
Does anyone know if chronic bruising of the eardrums is curable?
I know we’re nearing the Islington Academy before I even lay eyes on it. The screams can be heard from Islington High Street. I guess the Tokio Hotel gig was never going to be a quiet affair.
Earlier, at Angel tube station, the fans were easy to spot. Maybe it was their tender age, maybe it’s because most were of the female persuasion or maybe it was just the gleam of excitement in their eyes. Most wore black and a majority came armed with posters, arm bands, glow sticks and attention attracting paraphernalia.
The line-up outside is hefty and more than a few passers by find themselves engulfed by curiosity. “What the hell is going on here?” I could answer by describing the German music invasion in detail but for now, “The next big thing” will suffice.
My companion and I aren’t bothered about a front row position (forget the smoking ban, such large doses of passive pheromone inhalation is harder to cope with). Instead, we discuss music over a bottle of Rose and wait for the dust to settle. We need the ‘Dutch courage’ to tackle this lot. Later, the path to Tokio Hotel is a clear and silent one. Inside it’s a different story.
The first thing we notice is the audience division; the number of brave folk accompanying their offspring is impressive; oldies (and press) at the back, the hard-core fans at the front. We’re wedged somewhere in between. As the minutes tick by, the tension mounts…
The screaming is like a tsunami; you don’t really know it’s coming but when it hits, it knocks you for six; I’ve never heard such a level of lung stretching in my life. I wasn’t around during the Beatles era but I’m guessing the screeching was similar. Although this band hasn’t hit The Beatles’ popularity levels yet, they’re dangerously huge in Germany. Number One singles, platinum albums and regular sold-out gigs to audiences of over 60,000… you name it. Yep, Tokio Hotel already have their home country in a spell.
As Tom, Georg and Gustav hit the stage, hands rise towards the heavens and the room full of fans lets out a collective gasp of hysteria. I’m sure the girls in front of us will faint when front man (boy) Bill shows his face (and big hair). I can’t help but worry for the front row battlers; we’ve made a smart move by hanging back. The fans towards the front look as though they’re taking pushing and shoving to the extremes. Blimey, I saw Pearl Jam at Wembley last night and this lot rival the mosh bunnies there. (According to a number of fans on the official UK forum, the atmosphere at the front of the TH gig was unbearable). It’s a pity for people who want to see their favourite band without risk of injury.
The lads rip into their set. They certainly look the part – Bill’s hair never fails to surprise. How he manages to style his long black locks is beyond me. His ‘do’ would do ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ proud. There must be a hair-product deal on the horizon; seriously, the guy is missing out on some major royalties.
I interviewed the lads last month and even then, Bill had hair and eye-liner of epic proportions. As far as ‘image’ goes, the German foursome has it mastered. Appearance wise, identical twins Bill and Tom are as striking as they are unique. Tonight is no different; Tom hunches over his guitar in baggy jeans and an oversized white T-shirt, brown dreadlocks tied back and held in place with a black bandana and cap. Bill in stark contrast is decked in tight black… his elfin features framed by a mop of spiky black hair. Gustav and Georg are older (is twenty old these days?) but no less popular. They’ve covered all ‘looks’ here… there’s one to suit every girl’s taste.
When I asked about the typical Tokio Hotel gig Bill answered “We don’t have an exact concept ready when we go on stage – most stuff happens spontaneously”. Spontaneity aside, the band are tight and the reaction even tighter. The faithful UK fans are treated to the entire ‘Scream’ album; it’s all in English and they sing along to every word. Bill banters a little in between tunes – mostly to say thank you with a distinct German twang. I can’t help but feel that a gig in their native tongue would carry a heavier punch but full credit to the boys for the translations. Something tells me the people here tonight know the words in both languages.
I sing along to ‘Monsoon’ and ‘’Ready, Set, Go!’ (I didn’t even realise I knew the words!) – interview research obviously has a subconscious level I didn’t know about. That’s the thing; this band is as likeable as it is inescapable. Just last week I was holidaying in Paris and their faces were plastered across every music channel we flicked to. Later, my Swedish friend informed me they’ve hit the big time there too. If the flags in the audience are anything to go by, these boys are spanning the nations. Poland and France are particularly well represented – it’s getting rougher in there by the minute.
Unfortunately, our view is blocked by a sea of cameras and posters. How people can fully lap up a concert’s vibe whilst trying to hold a camera straight is a mystery. Sure, get some happy snaps but take care to savour the moment too. Tonight, the venue isn’t huge and this rare feeling of intimacy will be short lived. If their UK fan base eventually matches that in Germany, an up close and personal Tokio Hotel experiences will be non-existent.
Amidst the hysteria, the band stands proud. Bill’s voice doesn’t hold as strong as the likes of Vedder and his fellow musical legends but this seventeen year old has a lifetime of stardom (and vocal development) ahead of him. In fact, all four do. The fans love them and the critics love to bag them. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea but young Brits don’t drink much of that anyway. If you can’t scull vodka, go for the mixers. As Bill informed me “As soon as you’re successful, there will instantly be people who’ll be jealous and I think that’s pretty normal”. If the amount of female attention these lads are receiving is anything to go by, we’ll see a lot more of them in the years to come. Good on them. Jealousy, it seems will be part of the package… the band have talent and magnetism all rolled into one.
Let’s just hope the fans don’t grind each other to a pulp in the meantime.
Last Night’s TH Set List!
Were you there at Tokio Hotel’s first UK gig? If you were, here’s a reminder of the setlist – and if you weren’t, here’s what you missed!
1. Ready,set,go !
2. Final day
3. Break away
4. Don’t jump
5. Raise your hands
7. Love is dead
9. On the edge
11. Rescue me – acoustic
12. By your side
For Katie’s interview with the band from 24th May 2007 click HERE.